Page images

RULE VIII. Every adjective, and every adjective pronoun, belongs to a substantive, expressed or understood : as, “ He is a good, as well as a wise man;" « Few are happy;" that is 6 persons :" - This is a pleasant walk;”” that is, This walk is,” &c.

Adjective pronouns must agree, in number, with their substantives : as, “ This book, these books; that sort, those sorts; another road, other roads."

Exercises, p. 82. Key, p. 44.

1. ADJECTIVE PRONOUNS. · A few instances of the breach of this rule are here exhibited. “ I have not travelled this twenty years;" " these twenty.” “I am not recommending these kind of sufferings;" this kind." "Those set of books was a valuable - present;" that set.” ..

1. The word means in the singular number, and the phrases, By this means,By that means,are used by our best and most correct writers ; namely, Bacon, Tillot- . son, Atterbury, Addison, Steele, Pope, &c*. They are, indeed, in so general and approved use, that it would appear awkward, if not affected, to apply the old singular form, and say, “ By this mean; by that mean; it was by

** By this means, he had them the more at vantage, being tired and harassed with a long march.”.

Bacon. By this means one great restraint from doing evil, would be taken away.”. " And this is an admirable means to improve men in virtue."- " By that means they have rendered their duty more difficult.”

Tillotson. . ir It renders us careless of approving ourselves to God, and by that means securing the continuance of his goodness." " A good character, when esta. Vlished, should not be rested in as an end, but employed as a means of doing still further good.”

Atterbury. By this means they are happy in each other." " He by that means preserves his superiority.”

Addison. “ Your vanity by this means will want its food.”

Steele. " By this means alone, their greatest obstacles will vanish.”

Pode, " Which custom has proved the most effectual means to ruin the nobles.”

Dean Swift.

a mean;" although it is more agreeable to the general analogy of the language. “ The word means (says Priestley) belongs to the class of words, which do not change their termination on account of number; for it is used alike in both numbers.”

The word amends is used in this manner, in the following sentences: “ Though he did not succeed, he gained the approbation of his country; and with this amends he was content.” “ Peace of mind is an honourable amends for the sacrifices of interest.” « In return, he received the thanks of his employers, and the present of a large estate: these were ample amends for all his labours.” “We have described the rewards of vice: the good man's amends are of a different nature.”

It can scarcely be doubted, that this word amends (like the word means) had formerly its correspondent form in the singular number, as it is derived from the French amende, though now it is exclusively established in the plural form. If, therefore, it be alleged that mean should be applied in. the singular, because it is derived from the French moyen, the same kind of argument may be advanced in favour of the singular amende ; and the general analogy of the language may also be pleaded in support of it.


“ There is no means of escaping the persecution.” Faith is not only a means of obeying, but a principal act of obedience.”

Dr. Young “He looked on money as a necessary means of maintaining and increasing power."

Lord Lyttelton's Henry II. * John was too much intimidated not to embrace every means afforded for his safety.”

Goldsmith. “Lest this means should fail. “ By means of ship-money, the late king, &c.”

" The only means of securing a durable peace.” “ By this means there was nothing left to the Parliament of Ireland,” &c.

Blackstone. By this means so many slaves escaped out of the hands of their masters.” ,

Dr. Robertsos. “By this means they bear witness to each other.”

Burke. "By this means the wrath of man was made to turn against itself.” Dr. Blair.

“A magazine, which has, by this means, contained, &c." " Birds, in general, procure their food by meaks of their beuk.

Dr. Polat:

Campbell, in his “ Philosophy of Rhetoric,” has the following remark on the subject before us : “No persons of taste will, I presume, venture so far to violate the present usage, and consequently to shock the ears of the generality of readers, as to say, “By this mean, by that


Lowth and Johnson seem to be against the use of means in the singular number. They do not, however, speak decisively on the point; but rather dubiously, and as if they knew that they were questioning eminent authorities, as well as general practice. That they were not decidedly against the application of this word to the singular num: ber, appears from their own language: “Whole sentences, whether simple or compound, may become members of other sentences by means of some additional connexion.”— Dr. Lowth's Introduction to English Grammar.

" There is no other method of teaching that of which any one is ignorant, but by means of something already known.”— Dr. Johnson. Idler.

It is remarkable that our present version of the Scriptures makes no use, as far as the Compiler can discover, of the word mean; though there are several instances to be found in it of the use of means, in the sense and connexion contended for. “By this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river.” Ezra iv. 16. “That by means of death,&c. Heb. ix. 15. It will scarcely be pretended, that the translators of the sacred volumes did not accurately understand the English language; or that they would have admitted one form of this word, and rejected the other, had not their determination been conformable to the best usage. An attempt therefore to recover an old word, so long since disused by the most correct writers, seems not likely to be successful ; especially as the rejection of it is Áot attended with any inconvenience.

The practice of the best and most correct writers, or a great majority of them, corroborated by general usage, forms, during its continuance, the standard of language;

especially, if, in particular instances, this practice continue, after objection and due consideration. Every connexion and application of words and phrases, thus supported, must therefore be proper, and entitled to respect, if not exceptionable in a moral point of view..

" Si volet usus “Quem penes arbitrium est, et jus, et norma toquendi.». HOR. On this principle, many förins of expression, not less deviating from the general analogy of the language, than those before mentioned; are to be considered as strictly proper and justifiable. Of this kind are the following. None of them are varied to express the gender;" and yet none originally signified no one. “He himself shall do the work:” here, what was at first appropriated to the objective, is now properly used as the nominative case. “ Youe have behaved yourselves well :" in this example, the word you is put in the nominative case plural, with strict propriety; though formerly it was confined to the objective case, and ye exclusively used for the nominative.

With respect to anomalies and variations of language, thus established, it is the grammarian's business to submit, not to remonstrate. In pertinaciously opposing the decision of proper authority, and contending for obsolete modes of expression, he may, indeed, display learning and critical sagacity; and, in some degree, obscure points that

are sufficiently clear and decided; but he cannot rea- sonably hope either to succeed in his aims, or to assist the

learner, in discovering and respecting the true standard and principles of language.

Cases which custom has left dubious, are certainly within the grammarian's province. Here, he may reason and remonstrate on the ground of derivation, analogy, and propriety; and his reasonings may refine and improve the language: but when authority speaks out and decides

the point, it were perpetually to unsettle the language, to - za admit of cavil and debate, Anomalias then, under the limitation mentioned, become the law, as clearly as the plainest analogies. · The reader will perceive that, in the following sentences the use of the word mean in the old form has a very uncouth appearance: “By the mean of adversity we are often instructed.” “He preserved his health by mean of exercise.” “ Frugality is one mean of acquiring a competency.” They should be, “ By means of adversity," &c.“ By means of exercise,” &c. “ Frugality is one means," &c.

Good writers do indeed make use of the substantive mean in the singular number, and in that number only, to signify mediocrity, middle rate, &c. as, “This is a mean between the two extremes.” But in the sense of instrumentality, it has been long disused by the best authors, and by almost every writer.

This means and that means should be used only when they refer to what is singular; these means and those means, when they respect plurals : as, “ He lived temperately, and by this means preserved his health ;” - The scholars were attentive, industrious, and obedient to their tutors; and by these means acquired knowledge.”

We have enlarged on this article, that the young student may be led to reflect on a point so important, as that of ascertaining the standard of propriety in the use of language.

2. When two persons or things are spoken of in a sentence, and there is occasion to mention them again for the sake of distinction, that is used in reference to the former, and this, in reference to the latter: as, “ Self-love, which is the spring of action in the soul, is ruled by reason : but

for that, man would be inactive; and but for this; he would ' be active to no end.”

3. The distributive adjective pronouns, each, every, either, agree with the nouns, pronouns, and verbs, of the singular number only: as, “ The king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, sat each on his throne;" Every tree is known by its fruit:" unless the plural noun conveys

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »